This October, I sold my first company Gumdrop to Vlogmi Corp. I wrote a whole blog on Gumdrop's journey and exit, it was so wild.
I was so lucky, my exit wouldn't happen if I weren't at Capital Factory. So today, I want to share my overall experience working out of Capital Factory.
My name is Kangle Lin, the founder of Gumdrop. I actually reside in California, I am still a student at the University of San Francisco. I embraced the remote working opportunity that covid had created. I launched Gumdrop and moved to Austin during covid.
I have never been to Texas before, nor did I understand the ecosystem here in Austin. I didn't know a thing about Texas aside from the name.
Gumdrop went through several pivots, but the version that people used was for small group matching. Gumdrop matches students into 4-6 people groups and provides places for them to hang out around campus. We wanted to help students form meaningful friendships through in-person experiences.
Gilbert and I were extremely focused on the product. We did not pitch to anyone other than the users. Being the CEO for the first time, I didn't really know how to best go about fundraising. When we ran out of runway, Gilbert and I couldn't keep developing Gumdrop full time. I thought to myself, maybe I can give accelerators a shot? I’ve always wanted to join an accelerator, it would be a great opportunity for me to learn and network. Additionally, we could maybe extend Gumdrop’s runway.
I talked to my advisor, Nikhil Vimal. Nikhil co-founded ChatMode, a Microsoft partnered AI solution company. He dropped out of the same university that I go to, I really look up to him. He went through the Capital Factory accelerator when he was 17. He told me all about his experience at Capital Factory while we were chilling in LA after meeting a fellow from Launch House. So off I went, I booked an appointment with Capital Factory as soon as I came back to Austin.
I arrived at Capital Factory the next day ready to pitch. I totally messed up because I was so nervous. When Bobby asked me what I need help with, I froze up. I wasn't sure how to put it. He then told me that the accelerator program no longer exists, Capital Factory has a portfolio now. He told me that it's for companies that are in a later stage than Gumdrop, so I ended up getting a regular membership.
We came up with the idea of Gumdrop while I was in Southern California. It wasn't really working until my year spent in Austin. Gumdrop was doing well before we run out of runway. By the time I joined Capital Factory, Gumdrop was out of runway and went into survival mode. Thanks to Gilbert, we had a very solid MVP. I went on for 3 months without any major development.
I was looking for someone who can take on this mission and keep pushing forward. We did not want to just give up. Gilbert and I came up with a lot of ideas, but none of them worked like Gumdrop. We believe that what we built has great value, but we also thought that if we don't work on it there’s no value added. This has proven to be an absolutely wrong way of thinking about it.
As we were going to give away the IP to whoever wanted to build on top of it, I was networking hard as hell. I went to every networking event that was listed on the Capital Factory event page: Open coffee, Fiesta, Central Machine Works, etc. I got to meet all these amazing founders who were way ahead of me.
On the day of Fed Supernova, Cherie from KOYA introduced me to the Vlogmi Family. Vlogmi was founded by 3 Canadian siblings who had just moved to Austin from the Philippines, who later became my best friends in Austin.
One thing I thought was super cool about Vlogmi is that the three co-founders all decided to invest their college funds into Vlogmi. Instead of going to business school, they chose to start a business under the guidance of their father, Bob Thorssen. Bob is a magical man. Bob was a part of 4 IPOs throughout his career, he won the title Entrepreneur of The Year in Hong Kong back in the 90s. I thought it was super cool that Vlogmi was their MBA basically, I was never a fan of college. After running into the Vlogmi family a couple of times at different events, I went to Bob and asked for advice. After looking into my network, I couldn’t find a better person to talk to about acquisition, so we scheduled a meeting together. That Sunday, we went up to the 8th floor of Capital Factory, occupied the Wonder Woman conference room and had our meeting.
It went on for the whole day, we had to grab lunch together from the chipotle nearby the building. The result of that meeting was Vlogmi acquiring Gumdrop. Vlogmi saw what Gumdrop had built in Austin could accelerator their movements here in North America. The team, the experience, the brand recognition at UT, etc. And they really wanted Gilbert and I to be a part of the team. We were so honored and closed the deal soon after.
Despite the fact that Capital Factory has gotten rid of the accelerator and replaced it with a portfolio, just working out of Capital Factory I felt the acceleration that I had never felt before.
People: Looking through all the perks and benefits, what I actually found most fascinating were the people at Capital Factory. It was all about the people. When I first began this startup life, I was immediately attracted. But it gets hard… Like… Real fucking hard… camaraderie matters. When I first arrived at Capital Factory, I was immediately drawn in by the fact that there are easily 20 startups working on one floor. I was hyped to talk to these founders.
Capital Factory is truly the center of gravity. I found some of the coolest people that I have ever met. Sam Lillie, the founder of VINDER, mentored me over several hours on how to be a leader and set up the culture in your company. Michael Morton has shown me the right perspective on how to look at things even when things aren’t so pretty. Ritesh Patel taught me so much about bitcoin and finance. Bob Thorssen has taught me how to create win-wins. Kyle Murphy has shown me what passion looks like. When you surround yourself with people who are ten steps ahead of you, you catch up fast. By just hearing what people talk about around me, I learned how to do a lot of things that you won’t really know how unless you were there.
People are super nice here. Joshua Baer, the CEO of Capital Factory gave me two ACL passes when he learned that I was new to Austin. He also personally congratulated me on Gumdrop’s acquisition. Marcos Cervantes, the Vice President of Operations at Capital Factory, was always so down to chat and look over my projects. It’s just amazing that I get to hear feedback from folks like Josh and Marc.
Events: I took every opportunity I had to network. Capital Factory is an amazing hub that hosts all the amazing events. I personally loved the following events: Capital Factory Open Coffee, FIESTA, Austin Startup Week, Austin Bitcoin Club, and Austin Ethereum Club. You will always catch me at these events. I tried my best to get to know everyone at Capital Factory, but there are just too many amazing founders to know.
My time in Capital Factory was a true blessing. I was able to form so many relationships with some of the best people in the industry, as well as with grinders of my own age. I was able to learn so many things in a very short amount of time. Things such as organizing a cap table, pitching to investors, forming relationships with investors, corporate structures, finance, etc.
Capital Factory opened a lot of opportunities. Seeing all these amazing events in Capital Factory, I started up my own meet-up in Austin on the weekends for founders who want to chill and network. I started Codex Builders in San Francisco for student founders who are not in schools like Stanford. I also got accepted into the FoundersBoost accelerator.
I am so new to the startup world. And I feel like I got the cheat code in this game by being at Capital factory.